Implementation of company coaching programme


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Implementation of company coaching programme

  1. 1. ==== ====Questions on coaching? This is a great place to find out more: ====Ten years ago I was fortunate enough to be heavily involved in the implementation of a companywide coaching programme, both as an employee who was to receive coaching but also as amanager and coach who was expected to regular coach my reports and my peers to enable themto achieve their objectives. I say, fortunate enough, because I found that when I was coachedeffectively I became really motivated and focused, and when I finally became a proficient coach, Iagain found it motivational in that I was able to support and enable my direct reports to achievemore.There were though many pitfalls along the way to achieving total acceptance of coaching as a skillthat not only motivated but also enabled employees to become more capable and productive. Inthis short article I will outline the necessary steps I feel an organisation must take in order toensure that they implement a coaching programme effectively. Ten years ago I feel that althoughwe made great progress we also made some mistakes which I would encourage organisations tobe aware of when deciding to go down the coaching route.1.Ensure coaching starts at the top and is supported by the top!Many organisations are recognising that coaching is a skill that all managers of people and teamsmust possess. However, many organisations only concentrate on ensuring that 1st and perhaps2nd line managers are trained in the skill. Suddenly middle or junior managers become skilled incoaching but never experience the power of coaching from their own senior management. Inrelation to ensuring that everyone who will be involved in the coaching programme buys -in to thecoaching philosophy they need to hear that the top executives are committed to coaching both interms of promoting the skill but also to be seen to utilise the skill themselves in that they arecoached and that they coach their own direct reports. In other words everybody has to walk thetalk.In my last organisation before going self-employed this was not the case. A few senior members ofthe Board and a couple of key HR personnel promoted the skill of coaching well and practicedwhat they preached. Unfortunately some very senior managers did not and continued to use verydirective behaviours towards their staff whilst communicating that coaching was a fad that wouldsoon pass! This caused confusion at middle management levels with the result that a number ofmanagers did not take their coaching training very seriously. Fortunately other managers did andtheir teams eventually experienced the benefit.2.Will everybody understand what coaching is and what it can do them?This was one of the first hurdles that we had to overcome. Simply, people did not understand whythe organisation was implementing such a programme and also
  2. 2. people did not fully understand what coaching was exactly. Some believed it was training and thatall it meant was that you told people what to do and showed them how to do it. After all that waswhat their sports coach did! Others thought it was more about counselling and you only usedcoaching when there was a deep problem causing under-performance. All in all not everyone hada good understanding of what coaching was and how it differed from the likes of training,mentoring and counselling. Also many people because they had not been exposed to effectivecoaching had no experience or idea of why coaching could be a benefit for them; either as thecoach or as someone being coached. Before employees can move on and take part in a coachingprogramme they must be 1005 aware of what the skill of coaching entails and what it can do forthem.3.Those who are going to act as coaches must be trained effectively.Most companies will take on the services of a training provider or consultant to support them toimplement the coaching programme. Beware. Make sure you do your homework! There arenumerous coaching schools, training companies and consultancies who now offer coach training.Some will be excellent; some not so hot. We had some major problems with the group that weused in that not all their trainers/coaches had the necessary skill and experience with the resultthat not everyone in the organisation received the same quality of training and coaching. I wasextremely lucky in that I had an excellent coach who was also a fantastic trainer.What should you look for when selecting a coaching training company or consultancy?The most important thing to look for in selecting a provider company is to ensure that you arecomfortable that you can form a powerful and productive partnership with them. There are anumber of questions you should be asking in order to ascertain this.oWhat is their experience of supporting coaching programmes? (Years of experience, types ofsituations, companies worked with, references)oWhat is the experience of the individual consultants? Business backgrounds? Coachingexperience? Coaching Qualifications? Any experts within the ranks? (There are a lot of lifecoaches now offering corporate manager-coach training and many do not come from a corporatebackground. Although this does not mean they wont be good coaches, it may mean that theircredibility in the eyes of the trainees/coachees might not be all it could be, and this could presentproblems)oWhat coaching models does the provider use? Do they stick to one model or are they able toutilise a number of coaching models which they can fit to the purchasing company?oHow flexible is the provider? It is all very well putting together a coaching programme to satisfyan initial proposal but are they able to flex this programme as befits the needs of the organisationas they go through the programme? Flexibility is key in any coaching programme as noteverything will go to plan and not everybody will progress at the same pace!oDoes the provider offer variety of interventions within the programme? A good provider willensure that the programme is varied with it being a mix of classroom theory, role-play and otherexperiential practices together with assignments, action plans, review days not forgetting 1:1,
  3. 3. group and telephone coaching support.oAre they prepared to ensure that they measure their success and agree with you what exactlysuccess looks like? If they are not then forget them!oAre they affordable? Some companies and consultancies charge very high rates and deliverexcellence and are value for money. Some are the opposite and some charge very reasonablerates and are also excellent. The main point is that you should also do your sums and make sureyou can afford the programme because it could last a fairly long time, particularly if you are a largeorganisation.Coach training takes time and although there are some very good two -three day coursesavailable the real secret to establishing and reinforcing coaching skills is to ensure that once thebasic theory is learned, these skills are immediately put into practice. A good coach trainingprovider will always offer follow up support either in the form of review days, 1:1 coaching, groupcoaching (action learning sets) and telephone coaching support. Having said all this in manyinstances it will depend on the budget available but whatever the situation please ensure that youdo your homework on the outfits that you have singled out in your tendering process. If yourmanagers and coaches do not get the required and proper training then the whole coachingprogramme could collapse before your very eyes.4.Ensure that those who are doing the coaching have some form of measure.Firstly it was my experience that although everyone went through the coach training not everyonewas prepared to go away and start coaching! Reasons for this were varied. Some cited too muchpressure of work and not enough time; others simply outlined that they didnt believe coachingwould work for their reports; some stated that they were already coaching, whilst others decidedthat they needed to coach more because they now believed that this was the way to motivatedand up skill their staff. The end result was that although some managers had a strong motivator tocoach, others did not. How did we get round this challenge? Well we got half way there, in that inevery managers measures of performance there was an objective around how much time wouldhave to be spent on a one to one basis with individuals in their teams. This at least got people tomake sure they put time in their diaries in order for this to happen. However this was only half thebattle as it was no guarantee that within this dedicated time, the manager would actually do anycoaching! What I believe should have happened (and what I now believe is happening) is that themanager on a regular basis now asks for feedback on their coaching skills from the people theyare coaching. Each coachee will have a list of the competencies and behaviours that an excellentcoach should exhibit and every so often the manager will ask the coachee for feedback on these.Only by taking both the objectives and feedback approach will you ensure that coaching is takenseriously.5.Regularly review progress against agreed measurement and success criteria.Finally the success of the coaching programme overall should be measured. As with any trainingintervention it is not always that easy to measure how successful the intervention has been. Sure,the feedback following the course was great and the trainer/coach was superb, but did any lastingchange happen and did this result in improved behaviours and subsequent improvement inproductivity?
  4. 4. Organisations should look to both qualitative and quantitative measures where possible.Qualitative measures include written feedback about how the coachee or employee feels aboutthe coaching - do they feel more focused, more motivated, has morale improved, do they lookforward to their coaching sessions etc. Qualitative measures though do not always satisfy seniormanagement who, in many respects, do not respect happy sheet feedback. What they want ishard evidence based on data and results. If they do not get this then suspicion about how effectivethe interventions often occurs and future investment in such soft skill ventures can be difficult toaccess.Where possible if you are looking to demonstrate a return on the investment then you should lookto measuring outputs such as sales or production; look at sickness rates, employee retention ratestogether with improvements in individual competency ratings where possible. We were constantlybeing pressured and challenged to prove a return on the huge investment that the company hadmade and although we struggled in the early days to prove that coaching worked we eventuallygathered together enough quantitative data to prove our case.In Summary, in order to support your organisation to successfully implement a coachingprogramme at all levels the do the following:1.Get Buy-In from the top and ensure they are committed to the skill of coaching and that theylead by example. Others will follow.2.Make sure everyone involved understands why coaching is being implemented, what coachingis and how they as individuals will benefit not only as a coach but as someone being coached.3.Choose your coach training providers very carefully. Are they experienced coaches? Can theytrain effectively? Do they have a list of satisfied clients? Do they provide ongoing follow-upsupport?4.Are there enough motivators in place for managers to coach? Is coaching part of their specificobjectives and are they being measured on these objectives? Are they asking for feedback ontheir skills?5.Make sure you put both qualitative and quantitative measures in place and that you review theseregularly, always remembering to communicate these to senior stakeholders.Another important point is that all this takes time. If you think you can implement a coachingprogramme in a matter of weeks then think again. You will need time to get the support of seniormanagement; time to put a training plan together and then time to implement that training plan.Then there should be a re-inforcement and sustainability period when the newly found skills arebeing implemented and developed through feedback. Time should also be put aside to ensurefeedback is collected and measurement against the success criteria is monitored andcommunicated. Give at least six months to a year for your implementation and then be prepared tocontinually assess and develop the skills on an ongoing basis.Coaching programmes are lengthy and can be exhausting given the continual training, monitoringand influencing of stakeholders, but ultimately they are very worthwhile as the organisation and its
  5. 5. people grow as a result.About the submitter:Allan Mackintosh is a Performance Management Coach with team development specialists,Reivers Development. He is an accomplished speaker and author of ‘The Successful CoachingManager’ (Troubador Press). He is also the creator of the coaching models OUTCOMES® andCARERS™.He can be contacted at 01292 318152 or e-mail: He has his own personalwebsite at http://www.pmcscotland.comArticle Source: ====Questions on coaching? This is a great place to find out more: ====